Archive for the 'Catholicism – Morals' Category

What’s wrong with reproductive cloning?

Friday, June 15th, 2007

I was thinking over the various issues associated to ESCR (Embryonic Stem Cell Research) when a thought occured to me: everyone always recoils over the issue of cloning, but why is that?  I mean, I know why I’m against it.  It’s contrary to God’s design of how we are conceived, which is naturally through sexual intercourse.  But most of society doesn’t agree with me about that being at all important as can be seen by the vast support for test tube babies and the such.

Is there are argument against reproductive cloning that doesn’t hinge on natural conception?

I’m not talking about arguments against killing embryos/babies like ESCR or organ farming would do.  I’m talking about arguments against creating a cloned embryo, implanting that embryo in a woman and raising it as if it were a regular son or daughter, particularly arguments that don’t also apply to non-eugenic (i.e. sex selection, disability filtering, etc.) artificial implantation.

Anyone have any ideas?

What to do with accused priests

Thursday, April 26th, 2007

I found this article about the lack of due process for accused priests very interesting.

One of the most overlooked aspects of the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church is how to deal with priests who have been accused.  Of course, it goes without saying, that it is more important to first consider protecting children before one considers the issue of handling the priests.  However, that doesn’t remove our obligation to treat every human being with the dignity they deserve.  The reality is that even the worst criminals who are put in jail are still given a place to live (the jail) and food to eat.  So what do we do with priests who are accused to both protect our children while accepting that when the priest was ordained the Church took on the duty to provide for them?

I think it is a very difficult issue, one that I’m not sure the article did a good job of addressing.  Furthermore, I think it is important to note that we face the same issue in civil society.  When a crime merits refusing bail, we still take the freedom of that criminal away while they are still presumed innocent.  If they later are found not-guilty they get no more than an “oops” from the state despite the fact that the state took their life away from them for at least a year in most cases.  Similarly the complaints about feeling obligated to take early retirement feel a lot like a plea-bargain.  Often times they are done not to admit guilt but to find the most pain-free way out of a bad situation.  I’ve seen many articles in the news where the accused felt “forced” to accept a plea-bargain in a civil trial.

To some degree, it sounds like the current process within the Church has a similar format to civil courts.  There is an initial analysis/hearing to determine if there could potentially be any merit to the case, similar to an arraignment.  Then there is what is effectively a “preliminary trial” done by the diocese.  The final trial does not occur until the Vatican gets involved.  That all sounds pretty good.

However, there are three aspects of the current process that worry me:

  1. The most troubling to me is the level of penalty the “preliminary trial” can assess.  Layicizing a priest doesn’t sound like a “preliminary” action.  While removing them from ministry and even notifying the public of that may be necessary for both safety and PR issues, denying that person their ordinational right while still awaiting the full trial seems inappropriate.
  2. The next issue that exists is one that is addressed in US law that probably is missing from the Church canonical process: the right to a speedy trial.  I know it can take the Vatican years to get around to these types of trials, which is unacceptable if a man’s life is hanging in the balance.  It further makes the “preliminary trial” all to much like the final trial.
  3. Finally, the housing and income of the priest.  I’m very concerned that they can be cut loose when guilt has not been conclusively determined.  I’m fine with forcing them to live at a retreat house or something similar, but denying them their Church income and telling them to go find their own means of living while they are still presumed innocent is unfair.

To some degree I am OK with the idea that the Church overshot in its initial reaction to the crisis.  It was an important time to make sure as many loopholes as possible were closed for those who were abusing our children and, as a result, robbing our money through the lawsuits brought against the Church.  However, it is important that over time the Church refine its processes so as to protect both the rights of our children and the rights of our priests who have dedicated their lives to serving God and the Church.

Hopefully articles like this can help the Church to continue in a prayerful and thorough analysis to determine what if any revisions of the norms need to be made.

drowning man to coast guard: do you know what your problem is?

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

(hat tip to Mark Shea for the analogy in the title and the link to the column)

I can’t decide what aspect of this column about more women deciding to stay at home after having children bothers me the most.

Perhaps it is just how misguided Ms. Hirshman is about the value and impact of a stay at home mom.  Why staying at home to raise children is at all relevent to “participation in public life allows women to use their talents and to powerfully affect society”  I’m not sure I’ll ever know.  Is she really trying to tell us that to all of the stay at home moms who use part of their time to help in their community at schools and libraries and homeless shelters and churches and hospitals and a host of other important “public” entities are not “participating in the public life”?

And that says nothing of the value and importance of children being raised by people who are doing it for more than the financial benefits of running a childcare facility.

Perhaps it is the amazingly biased use of words like “pressure” to refer to the reasons mothers decided to stay at home while she stares down her nose at stay at home moms who are “doing the easy thing”.  Is she really so incapable of reading her own writings to see the distain she has for those who choose to stay home in her desire to see them “liberated” from it?

And that says nothing of the financial strain that many families find themselves under that pressures women who would otherwise stay at home to work.

Perhaps it is the complete refusal to recognize that it is indeed a matter of choice even though she quotes in her column the evidence that makes it clear: “New mothers with husbands in the top 20 percent of earnings work least, the report notes.” and “they are unlikely to affect the behavior of the highly educated women with the highest opt-out rates.”  Is she really so incapable of seeing that there might just be something to this staying at home thing considering it is the smartest women and the women with the financial means who are staying at home the most?

And that says nothing of… um… OK, I can’t keep up the format forever.

Perhaps, as an extension of the above point, the troubling yet odd libertarian mindset of putting choice as the arbitor of all government decisions…. unless that decision happens to be a traditional one, in which case we need to compel those people to comply with what the column’s author believes is right.

However, in the end, I think  commenter John Henry on Mark Shea’s blog summarized the column, and hence the err in it, best:

“All the progress I have poored my life into is being flushed by the rising generation.”

I guess when it is put that way I have some sympathy for Ms. Hirshman.  It is hard to see what one has worked hard to accomplish undone.  However, in this case, I think it is the chickens coming home to roost.  After the baby boomers spent a generation telling their parents that they don’t care about the collective wisdom their parents had to pass on to them, it is fitting that the following generation is giving them a dose of their own medicine.

Maybe, just maybe, we have found that life’s meaning has less to do with work and more to do with God and our families and we really don’t care that we’re undoing The Feminist Cause ridiculously displayed in the column.

Sports and faith

Monday, April 23rd, 2007

Today, the combination of two different blog posts (one from Mark Shea about a new documentary and one varia post on TBIOOTF that ends with the following video that you must see) helped me to find the words to comment on the Virginia Tech tragedy in a way that could sound crass but I believe is meaningful.

One of the reasons I love college football over pro football is because college football is about more than an owner and his team.  The NFL tries to deceive people into thinking they are there for the community just like corporations try to fool people into thinking their motives are bigger than the bottom line, but it’s all a joke.  The reality is that the job of the NFL is to make the 32 owners money just like it is the job of corporations to make money for their owners/shareholders.  Sometimes the best way to do that is by being a “good citizen” but in the end, they exist for one and one reason only.

Not so with college sports.

There are many out there that think college football is just as comercial as pro football.  While it may seem that way, and while there are definitely comercial aspects of college football, the reality is there is far more there.  To make my case I give you two proofs:

  1. Name me a pro-football team that has “boosters” who are willing to donate money to the cause?
  2. There was no talk of the New Orleans colleges and University leaving for a new town like there was with the Saints after Katrina.

At it’s heart, college sports are about people.  It’s about students at a college and the alumni who used to go there.  It’s about the hope and pride of those individuals.  No matter what happens, those people have a link to that college.  The college can’t just move and no longer be the Houston Oilers and now is the Tennessee Titans.  Nope.  My diploma will always have the same name on it.  I will always be bound to that school.  While in good times it will be easy for me to show my pride, it is just as true that in bad times I can not deny my ties to them.

That’s why when I watch the video I linked above, it gives me chills and makes my eyes water.  Because it’s the same people who filled that stadium with hope and joy who were struck down by fear and sadness last week.

May God give peace to those affected by the tragedy so that they may again find hope and joy. 

Ranting about depressing news coverage

Thursday, April 19th, 2007

This morning I read my normal assortment of news sites and it was all very depressing.  Of course some of it was depressing because of the news itself, but what stuck me this morning was how much of it was depressing because of the attitudes of those covering it  or those commenting on it.  I don’t have the strength/determination to fully quote and rebutt everything, however, for my own sake forgive me these rants:

  1. Part of the governments job is to regulate the medical industry.  There are thousands of medical proceedures that have been banned that one can find doctors who will complain about their being banned.
  2. I’m sorry but the headline “Abortion Ruling Ripped” is amazingly biased.  One could have just as easily used the headline “Abortion Ruling Praised”.
  3. There is a vast difference between the supreme court striking down legislation and refusing to strike down legislation.  If you’ve got complaints about a law that falls within the constitution, don’t blame the courts, blame your elected officials.
  4. The only way NBC would have not released the killers videos they received is if it hurt their ratings.  We get the news we watch.  If you don’t like it, don’t watch it.
  5. If you decide you’re going to release content from a murderer, you’ve got only two choices in my mind: Refuse to air any of it or air it ALL (with the possible caveat of up to 5% which is “pornographic” (speaking more broadly than sexually) which should still be fully described including why it was too “pornographic” to show).  There is nothing I despise more than the possibility that a news outlet can be manipulating content to get the story they want.  Nope.  No dice.  You give me the content, I decide what to make of it.  Deal?

That is all… for now.

What can one say about a tragedy?

Wednesday, April 18th, 2007

I haven’t blogged anything about the tragedy at Virginia Tech.  My prayers are with those who have lost loved ones and also that God grant mercy to those who have died.

It has been very sad to me to see so much of the focus on the issue quickly turned to political solutions to tragedies like this.  Is there no decency in this country?  Do we allow any time for mourning?  Along those lines, Mark Shea had a great couple posts (first (follow the link to Mrs. Shaidle’s post) and second) about how our society is losing it’s ability to meanfully mourn those who have died as it loses it’s Christian identity.  It is ridiculous how so many fluffy “memorial” services pass for an appropriate way to mourn the loss of life.

In any case, if you want to see any commentary on the political issues surrounding the tragedy, come back in a week or two.

I always knew I didn’t like Sean Hannity…

Monday, March 12th, 2007

…and now I have a reason to boycott him.

This guy has always bugged me.  I mean, even when I’ve agreed with him, the way he has presented topics and the strategies he used to debate people always made my skin crawl.  Heck, just the way his voice sounds bugs me.

But now he’s gone too far:

Before I go on, I should state that I think the priest was holding Hannity to too high a standard that I doubt he’d hold others too.  I don’t think he should deny communion to Hannity.  He could have been more charitable.

But that aside, I’ve lost what little respect I had for Hannity.  What kind of a response is it to a priest questioning how one is presenting the faith to the public to instead acuse him, without cause, of effectively being an accomplice to the priestly scandal?  That’s just ridiculous.  It’s doubly ridiculous coming from a guy who spent half the interview asking the priest if he knew anything about him when clearly Hannity knew nothing about the priest’s work (since the priest was quickly able to reference his website and the work he’s done in regards to the priestly scandal).  But even if this priest had done no work in that area, it’s still not a reasonable response.

In addition his “judge not” and “that’s in the good book” crap was just as ridiculous.  First of all, I’m absolutely sure Hannity has criticized more than one liberal politician for giving that same deflection.  More to the point, there are more than a few references in scripture that speak to the responsibility the Church has to not only generally proclaim the Truth but to call individuals out when they are failing.  In other words, it’s part of a priest’s job to call out sin as sin.

Finally, it’s not an either or choice for birth control or abortion.  There are the options of giving birth or obstaining from sex to prevent conception.  In fact, not only is it not an either or choice, it’s quite the opposite, one leads to the other, as the priest pointed out.  Both are interfering with God’s Will.  Both lead to a disrespect for life.  Once we’re willing to play God with birth control, when our ability to play God falls short, we find new ways to try and play God through abortion.  It’s not a coincidence that abortion was legalized less than a generation after birth-control use became the norm.  And it’s not as like both were discovered recently.  We’ve had the medical technology to do both since the times of the Greek empire.

Or said another way, as a favorite blogger of mine says “If bringing babies into the world is God’s way of saying the human race should continue, birth control is man’s way of saying it should end.”

So, I hearby proclaim that I will change the channel or station whenever I hear Hannity’s voice until he issues a humbly apology for that interview and shows some indication that he is going to take the leaders of the faith he claims to belong to more seriously.

Great immigration interview with Archbishop Chaput

Thursday, March 1st, 2007

Archbishop Chaput has always been an impressive Church leader in my opinion because of his balanced and practical approach.  This interview with him about immigration reform is another example of this.  Some great quotes that show his balance:

“We want a strong economy and a good standard of living, but we also don’t want to do a lot of the unpleasant jobs that help sustain that standard. So we live with a curious kind of schizophrenia. We need the “illegals,” but we also want to complain about them.”

“If Americans are angry about the immigration issue, it’s not because they’re instinctively bigoted. They’re frustrated and afraid, and too many of our public servants have failed us by not really leading with vision — in other words, by following their polls and ambitions, instead of their brains and consciences, to find a solution.”

“In Denver, we want to build a Church community that it is truly multiethnic and multiracial. That strikes me as a demand of discipleship. But unless we get serious national immigration reform soon, a sense of grievance will continue to grow among both Hispanics and non-Hispanics. In the long run, that could gravely wound the whole country.”

Please read the whole thing.

Spankings to Assemblywoman Sally Lieber

Thursday, February 1st, 2007

I meant to blog about this when it first came out but have been busy the last couple days.  There is a bill being introduced into the state legislator making it illegal to spank children.  I have a lot to say about this but first, the link to the article, and links to associated opinion pieces:

This issue upsets me in so many ways I don’t even know where to start.  The best I can do is list the various complaints and then try to break it down from there:

  1. Privacy and freedom:  Who is the state to say how I raise my children?
  2. The legislation is backwards: if anything, spanking is more valuable for younger children, and should be outlawed for older children.
  3. The apologetic ness of the response: “I’ve only spanked my child 4 times in my life and it was a very, very, very important reason.”
  4. Physical intervention is a necessary tool for parents.

I guess I’ll start with #3.  I was going to put caveats in this post about when I think it is appropriate to spank but after thinking about the matter, I now refuse to.  I’ll decide for myself when I think it is necessary and I’ll give my readers the same respect that they can decide for themselves.  The over-arching issue is not whether or when we spank but that we love our children and raise them lovingly.  There is nothing about a spanking, even fairly frequent spanking, that precludes that.

Along those lines: spankings and beatings are NOT the same thing.  A spanking is something that at worst leaves a broad red mark for less than an hour on even the most sensitive butt-white (excuse the pun) skin.  A beating is something that might result in bruises.  So let’s put aside any implication that a spanking is beating or abusing a child.  It’s just not the same thing in even the remotest sense.

Which I guess leads me to #2.  A big part about what bothers me about the legislation is that it’s all backwards.  It says you can’t spank kids under a certain age (in this case 4).  However, if you think about it, spanking is something that only is relevant for young kids.  If you’re going to make legislation, it should say you can’t spank kids OVER a certain age, say something like 7, although 10 would give plenty of room for parental judgment.

For those of you who don’t have kids, the younger a kid is, the less they listen to you.  At some point, they’re so young they couldn’t understand your words if they wanted to.  At these young ages you only have one disciplinary tool: physical force.  (Which means I guess I’m getting into point #4.)  Most of the time this force is nothing more than stopping the child from doing what he/she intends.  But as they get more obstinate in doing what you don’t want them to, you have to step up the amount of force that you use to prevent them.

See, here’s the problem with the “no spanking” crowd.  What do you do when a child doesn’t respond to you “asking them”?  Asking them again, is laughable.  What if a kid won’t do a “timeout”?  Giving them another timeout is yet again laughable.  Kids are young, not stupid.  If they realize there is a limit to the punishments they receive, they’ll find a way abuse that.  It’s an important lesson for children to learn at a young age that the worse thing you do, the worse the punishment is.  The more warnings and punishments you ignore, the worse the punishments will get.  Not all wrongs are equal and kids need to learn that early because it is just as true for adults as kids.

As such, it’s very appropriate for parents to start with “don’t do that”, then step up to the “timeout” then to “physically stopping” the to “physically stopping with some minor pain” then to “punishment w/ pain (of which spanking is one option)”.  Does a parent have to use moderation to know when to step things up to the next level?  Yes.  Are there parents who show bad judgment? Yes.  In fact, stepping things up too quickly can harm the parent’s ability to differentiate between the minor wrongs and the major wrongs.  But none of this precludes the use of force/pain even on a fairly regular basis if the child is not obeying their parents.

I use pain in discipline much more often than my wife does.  Usually, since my boys are both toddlers, that most often means squeezing their arms or legs harder than is necessary when I’m physically trying to get them to do what I want.  I’ve often noticed the boys laughing when my wife is trying to get them to do what she wants.  They think she’s playing with them while, in reality, she’s getting frustrated.  All it takes is a quick squeeze for them to realize that this isn’t a game and they need to sit still while I change their diaper.

And you know what, my kids love me just as much as they love their mom.

To bring #2 to a close, as my children get older, I’ll have other tools to use besides force/pain.  I can reason with them, lecture them, ground them and punish them in ways that doesn’t require me to physically spank them.  But while my kids are young, I don’t have those tools available to me yet.  To take spanking away is to delay my ability to discipline my kids until they are old enough to be too used to getting their way without consequences.

Finally, I’ll wrap up with #1: Pope Benedict has often spoken of the dictatorship of relativism.  The idea is that we reach a point where we pretend that “everything is acceptable” but in reality we have a dictatorship that refuses to let you believe/do anything but what is “in vogue”.  While this proposed legislation is minor in the big picture, it is symptomatic of the dictatorship of relativism.  The mindset that creates this says: “Children have to decide for themselves what is right and wrong; therefore anyone who spanks their children is a very bad person.”  It’s the same mindset that says: “Those archaic ‘religionists’ want to enforce laws on us that take away our freedoms to do whatever we want and we enlightened people are smart enough to know that their archaic ways are so barbaric as to be illegal.”

Thankfully there are enough people who have lived the practical life of raising children to know how stupid this legislation is.  However, we must be wary of the mindset that spawned this legislation and fight it with all of our collective might.

This has got to stop

Monday, January 29th, 2007

I hadn’t blogged on the subject because I wanted to let the facts sort themselves out before I commented.

Marshawn Lynch, the star RB at Cal who is turning pro this spring was accused of sexual assault by an ex-girlfriend.  My first reaction, after having seen the Duke case and others, was to assume that the girl was a money grabbing liar.  Others on other Cal blogs expressed similar sentiments.

But what is missed from that initial reaction was a disappointment in myself.  What if this girl really had been violated?  What if Marshawn, despite being Mr. Shy to the press, was a sexual deviant who deserved to be in prision?  How bad would my reaction have been then?

Well the news has broke today that the charges have been dropped due to lack of evidence and contradictions in the woman’s story.  Every indication was that my initial reaction was correct.

Can anyone else besides me see how horrible it is for our society that this keeps happening?  Was I the only one who’s parents told him the story “The Kid Who Cried Wolf”?  This is yet another instance that will lead people to be distrustful of women who make sexual assault cases against prominent men.  In the end it is the women who most need our support who will be negatively affected by this story.  I don’t know how we make it stop, but for the sake of sexually abused women everywhere, this has got to stop.